FRONT ROYAL —The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority elected Gray Blantion as its new chairman at a special meeting Friday morning. The board unanimously elected Blanton before going into a closed session.
Greg Drescher stepped down as chairman of the EDA last month. He said splitting his time between the EDA, and his job as superintendent of Warren County Public Schools had, “taken some juggling.”
Drescher’s resignation came during a flurry of news surrounding other EDA members.
In June, Jennifer McDonald, the EDA executive director was charged with filing a false police report. McDonald received the full support of the board — who contend she is innocent. McDonald continues to hold her position on the board and is working with Blanton as he takes over as chairman.
The Northern Virginia Daily in June reported Ron Llewellyn, another EDA board member, has had delinquent tax bills of more than $200,000. Llewellyn still holds his position as director on the board; however, county supervisors have voiced concerns about members of any board owing back taxes.
Drescher insisted his resignation had nothing to do with the recent controversies.
Blanton joined the EDA board last September. He said he volunteered for the chairman position after Drescher stepped down.
“I thought, ‘I’m not really doing anything. I’m pretty much semi-retired,’” Blanton said after the meeting. “The indication was that EDA needed a couple of new people, so I volunteered.”
Blanton worked as a pharmacist after graduating from the Medical College of Virginia, according to his Facebook page.
Blanton said he is focused on bringing new businesses and good paying jobs to the county.
“We have to, in essence, court new businesses to come. When they inquire, we are the ones who talk to them,” he said. “Unfortunately, businesses want it all to be kept silent. They do not want their competition knowing what their prospects [are] … We have to keep it all under wraps. That’s why we have to go into these sessions.”
Blanton has had business interests in Front Royal since the 80s and said he will run a tight ship.
Friday’s closed session immediately followed Blanton’s formal nomination and election.
Freedom of Information Act exemptions cited for the closed session referred to consultation with legal counsel and their advice on the legal matter of debt payments.
Board members had no comment on the closed session.